Rugby Union

Woodward was England coach from 1997 to 2004.

Sir Clive Woodward's 'five lessons' for Eddie Jones ahead of the World Cup

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Sir Clive Woodward, England's rugby union coach from 1997 to 2004, has named five lessons Eddie Jones can learn ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

Fifteen years ago today (Thursday), Woodward's men defeated tournament hosts Australia 20-17 in extra time in Sydney to be crowned 2003 world champions.

And now, one year away from the next Rugby World Cup, Jones will look to guide his men to similar success.

To aid him, Woodward told the Daily Mail the five lessons Jones can learn ahead of the prestigious tournament.

Stay Flexible

Starting with the need to stay flexible, Woodward described the importance of being able to adapt mid-game.

"React to what's happening. We felt secure 14-5 up at half-time and if Ben Kay, usually the safest pair of hands, hadn't spilled the ball over the line we could have been almost out of sight at 21-5.

"After the break we were still bossing the scrums, but the reality was that somehow we had got on the wrong side of the referee and conceded a string of penalties. 

"Phil Vickery didn't deserve to be subbed but we had to stop the penalties. Jason Leonard, the world's most capped prop, was just the man to not only sort the scrum, but also sort Watson.

"He put his arm around Watson before the start of extra time, 'Hi Andre - I am on now and there will be no more penalties in the scrum, will there, Andre?' 

(FILES) File picture of English coach Cl

"The substitution was not pre-planned, but it was just as important as Jonny's drop goal."

Do It Your Way

Secondly, Woodward advised the current England coach to do things his own way, despite the criticism he may receive for decisions he makes, tactically or otherwise.

"I received massive support from our CEO Francis Baron - and much criticism from elsewhere in the RFU - for demanding the best for the England team in terms of preparation and specialist coaches. 

"It was vital to establish a world-class team and build a world-class culture and environment. My mantra in professional sport is simple: 'Talent alone is not enough.' 

"A no-excuse mentality in everything we do. There is no problem in losing as long as you have done everything humanly possible to win."

England Media Access

Prepare Early

Ahead of England's game against Australia on Saturday, Woodward went on to describe the importance of preparing for the tournament now.

"It seems to have become a mantra recently that it's all about the 2019 World Cup and results in the interim are just stepping stones, but this is not a winning mentality. 

"Don't go thinking that you can just hit the green button next autumn and produce World Cup-winning rugby. England need to beat Australia on Saturday and then all that counts is the next game against Ireland. 

"Nothing else should enter your head, just focus all your efforts on the next game and, just possibly, one day the next game will be the World Cup final.

England Media Access

"We set the target of arriving as the world's No 1 team and we achieved that by focusing all our energies on the next game - something we reinforced by beating Australia and New Zealand on the road in June 2003 when most experts were telling me to rest the big names."

Fitness Levels

Reminiscing to his management of the 2003 World Cup final, Woodward was lucky enough to have a squad of 30 available at full fitness, something he hopes Jones will be to enjoy next year.

"Some of the big contact injuries are unavoidable but soft tissue injuries - hamstrings, biceps, groins, pectorals - are closely linked with fatigue.

"I had the best medical, physiotherapy and strength and conditioning teams. You can never be fit enough or fast enough. The game has not changed in 15 years, in fact it is arguably slower than in 2003.

"There are bigger athletes on the pitch, but they are slower, scrum-halves slow the ball down and kick a lot of ball away. England were the fastest team in 2003 and need to be the fastest in 2019."

England Media Access


Perhaps most importantly, Woodward emphasised the importance of making the right selection choices for each match.

"The importance of this never changes. While making it clear to your squad what your current Gun XV is for each successive match, you must never be too rigid in your thinking. 

"While the core of your team needs to be inked in, a winning team always trumps a settled team. 

"In the build-up to the 2003 World Cup, Josh Lewsey and Trevor Woodman suddenly forced their way into the reckoning and became regulars and we took the big decision that we wanted Jason Robinson on the wing, not full back. 

New Zealand v Australia - Final: Rugby World Cup 2015

"Make such big calls with confidence and don't get side-tracked about players needing to have a bucketload of caps and experience. They don't."

The 2019 Rugby World Cup, hosted by Japan, is set to get under way September 20 next year.

Eddie is still looking for - and probably needs - a couple of bolters if England really are going to threaten the very best in Japan.

If they emerge, pick them.

England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup
Australia Rugby
Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup

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